Opening Bell: 06.25.14

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Fight Breaks Out on Floor of New York Merc in Throwback to Bygone Era (The Street)
People who work on the floor of the Merc in lower Manhattan told TheStreet that two traders in the so-called 'open outcry pits,' where investors sell futures and options of precious metals, crude oil and natural gas, engaged in what might be euphemistically called a physical confrontation but which a half-dozen people interviewed described as including shoving or throwing punches. The altercation became quite heated, according to four traders, one of whom said someone's shirt was ripped during the fracas. Two other traders called it a "fist fight." The two men were subsequently escorted from the building by security, said two security guards. A source said that one trader walked-up to another trader to tell him to get out of "his spot" in the pits. When the "spot" was not vacated, the first trader shoved the other man, another trader said. "We're not in the schoolyard and you can't push anybody, and that's it," he said. "Once you put your hands on somebody then that's like the real no-no, so that's what happened."

Potential BNP Penalty Worries European Banks (WSJ)
The prospect of a gigantic U.S. penalty against BNP Paribas is sowing fear in the executive suites of other top European banks that also are under investigation for allegedly doing business in countries subject to U.S. sanctions. Officials at Germany's Deutsche Bank AG, Italy's UniCredit SpA and France's Crédit Agricole are all now bracing for bigger penalties than they had previously expected to resolve investigations into alleged violations of U.S. sanctions, industry officials say.

SEC Is Gearing Up to Focus on Ratings Firms (WSJ)
Thomas J. Butler, head of the Securities and Exchange Commission's Office of Credit Ratings, said he has referred multiple cases to the agency's enforcement division and is helping complete several industry regulations to address quality and transparency in how big debt deals are rated. Those moves signal a potential flurry of regulatory activity involving ratings firms, which have been largely untouched as government oversight has increased in most other financial sectors in recent years.

Ghana Sends Plane With $3 Million to Calm World Cup Team (Bloomberg)
Ghana has sent a plane carrying more than $3 million in cash to Brazil to pay the World Cup appearance fees owed to the national soccer team, known as the Black Stars. “The players insisted that they will want physical cash,” Deputy Sports Minister Joseph Yammin said in comments broadcast by Accra-based Citi FM. “Government had to mobilize the money and a chartered flight to Brazil. The money is in excess of $3 million.” Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama contacted the team and the arrangements for payment were made after, the Ghana Football Association said in a statement on its website. The players will be paid today and government will be reimbursed by money awarded to Ghana by FIFA, soccer’s governing body, the association said.

GoPro Brings Rare Gadget Deal to Hot IPO Market (WSJ)
As the bull market in initial public offerings rolls on, video-camera maker GoPro Inc. is cuing up the largest stock debut by a consumer-electronics company in 23 years. San Mateo, Calif.-based GoPro, along with early investors, plans to sell as much as $427 million of stock in the IPO late Wednesday. That would mark the largest consumer-electronics IPO since battery company Duracell International Inc.'s 1991 debut raised $433 million, according to data provider Dealogic. Gillette Co., now a unit of Procter & Gamble Co., bought Duracell in 1997. GoPro is the latest consumer business to cash in on investor demand for U.S. stocks, which has given the likes of microblogging service Twitter Inc., perfume maker Coty Inc. and theme-park operator SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. a window to float shares in the past year and a half.

Drunk Driver Falls Out of Own Vehicle, Runs Over Self (KX News)
30-year-old Robert Alan Pullar is charged with DUI, driving with a suspended licence, and refusal to submit to a chemical test. The incident happened early Saturday morning. Police say Pullar was driving on Hiawatha Street near 15 1/2 Ave SE when he fell out onto the street. Police say his vehicle continued forward, striking him. He was able to get back in the vehicle and drive away, but officers tracked him down later and made the arrest.

Spain Wins Back Share of Europe’s IPO Market on Recovery (Bloomberg)
Initial public offerings by Spanish companies account for about 8 percent of the $42 billion in cash raised in European stock-market listings this year, rebounding from zero in 2012 and 2013 as a recovery in the country’s economy attracts investors.

Yellen may be poised to rewrite Fed's rule book on wages, inflation (Reuters)
Research from the Fed's staff and her own past academic work both suggest there may be more slack in the economy than inflation hawks believe, and that businesses in recent years have been slower to raise prices than they were previously. If that is the case, then interest rates could remain lower for longer and inflation allowed to push beyond the Fed's 2 percent target without fear of it losing control. It's a policy Yellen has indicated she is willing to pursue to encourage wage growth and bring as many workers as possible back into the full-time labor market.

Deutsche Bank completes $11.6 billion cap hike (Reuters)
Deutsche Bank successfully completed an 8.5 billion euro ($11.6 billion) capital increase aimed at fortifying its regulatory ratios and paying for restructuring at Germany's biggest lender. "We have taken decisive steps to protect Deutsche Bank against known capital challenges, sharpen our competitive edge, and accelerate investments in growth in all our business divisions," Deutsche Bank Co-Chief Executives Juergen Fitschen and Anshu Jain said in a statement on Wednesday.

Spanish princess charged in corruption case (CNBC)
A Spanish court said on Wednesday it had formalized charges against Cristina de Borbon, sister of newly-crowned King Felipe VI, and her husband in a corruption investigation, paving the way for a trial that could further damage the royal family. The Palma de Mallorca court upheld charges of tax fraud and money laundering against Princess Cristina, in one of the last steps before opening trial proceedings. Her husband Inaki Urdangarin is accused of embezzling several millions of euros in public funds and a trial would center on his business dealings.

Man Comes To Court Hiding 19 Bags Of Weed In Sock: Cops (AP)
Authorities say a Connecticut man who told his probation officer he wasn't foolish enough to bring drugs into a courthouse had been hiding 19 bags of pot in his left sock. Darren Shelley had a hearing Monday in Stamford Superior Court on a charge of possession with intent to sell but the case was continued until Aug. 7. Authorities tell The Advocate the 22-year-old Stamford man reeked of marijuana when he met June 9 with his probation officer. When the officer asked about it, Shelley allegedly said he was "not a fool" and "did not bring drugs into the court." But the officer says a pat down revealed the bags of pot.

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Opening Bell: 03.20.13

JPMorgan Bosses Hit By Bank Regulator (WSJ) JP Morgan was downgraded in a confidential government scorecard over concerns about the company's management and its board, a blow to a firm that has long been considered one of the best-run on Wall Street. The New York company's management rating from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency fell one notch last July to a level that signifies oversight "needs improvement," following the revelation of what are known as the "London whale" trading losses, said people familiar with the regulatory assessment. Grading is on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being worst. J.P. Morgan had been at level 2, indicating "satisfactory management." The people said the downgrade to level 3 wasn't solely related to a London employee's large trades—in indexes tracking the health of a group of companies—that led to losses exceeding $6 billion. BlackRock’s CEO Fink Says Cyprus Is Not a Major Problem (Bloomberg) Laurence D. Fink, chief executive officer of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, said Cyprus is not a major problem and U.S. equities will rise 20 percent this year as the economy rebounds. “It has some symbolism impact on Europe, but it’s not a really major economic issue,” Fink said of Cyprus in a Bloomberg Television interview in Hong Kong today. “It’s a $10 billion issue. It does remind us of the frailty of Europe. It does remind us that the European fix will be multiple years.” Freddie Mac Sues Big Banks (WSJ) sued more than a dozen of the world's biggest banks for alleged manipulation of interest rates, in the first government-backed private litigation over the rate-rigging scandal. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, by the mortgage-finance giant joins scores of other suits piling up in U.S. courts, seeking billions of dollars in damages from banks that allegedly manipulated the London interbank offered rate and other crucial financial benchmarks. Freddie Mac sued the British Bankers' Association alongside the banks, putting the private association of large British banks for the first time in the cross hairs of a Libor lawsuit. A probe by U.S. and U.K. regulators has uncovered evidence of widespread rate rigging by some traders. Three banks have agreed to pay penalties totaling about $2.5 billion, and about a dozen companies remain under investigation. The BBA has agreed to transfer its responsibility for overseeing Libor to a new operator. Litigation Forces Deutsche Bank to Restate Profits (Reuters) Deutsche Bank cut its previously reported 2012 pretax profit by 600 million euros ($773 million) on Wednesday, hit by new charges related to mortgage-related lawsuits and other regulatory investigations. Europe's biggest bank by assets declined to say why it had increased litigation provisions to 2.4 billion euros, forcing it to correct its Jan. 31 earnings report which already showed the worst quarterly loss in four years. Yoga-Pants Supplier Says Lululemon Stretches Truth (WSJ) A Taiwanese supplier to Lululemon Athletica was bent out of shape on Tuesday after the yoga-clothes retailer blamed it for producing a shipment of pants that were unacceptably see-through. The supplier, Eclat Textile Co. of Taiwan, hit back at Lululemon, saying the clothes it shipped weren't "problematic." "All shipments to Lululemon went through a certification process which Lululemon had approved," Eclat Chief Financial Officer Roger Lo said in an interview. "All the pants were manufactured according to the requirements set out in the contract with Lululemon." Bernanke Seen Keeping Up Pace of QE Until Fourth Quarter (Bloomberg) The Fed chief will probably halt the unprecedented easing in the first half of next year after expanding central bank assets to a record of about $4 trillion, according to median estimates by 46 economists surveyed March 13-18 before a two-day meeting of policy makers ending today. Unemployment will have fallen to 7.3 percent from its current 7.7 percent when the Fed starts to pull back on its buying, the economists said. Supreme Court Sacks Goldman (NYP) The Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear the bank’s appeal of a federal court ruling in a lawsuit alleging it misled investors about dicey mortgage-backed securities. SEC Digging Into Fund Fees (WSJ) The Securities and Exchange Commission is closely scrutinizing the fees and expenses, including travel and entertainment, that hedge funds and private-equity firms charge to their investors. As part of the Dodd-Frank financial law, the SEC now oversees more than 1,500 additional such advisers that were required to register with the agency. In that capacity, the SEC is checking to ensure they are charging their investors reasonable expenses. "Exotic" expenses like travel, entertainment and consulting arrangements are more likely to attract the agency's attention than routine charges like legal and accounting fees, say compliance consultants who advise funds on registration and reporting requirements. A Volatile Investor Buys Into a Softer Approach (WSJ) It has been a long slog for Mr. Hohn, whose fund bets big on a small number of out-of-favor stocks and often holds on for several years. It lost 43% in 2008, among the worst losses by a hedge-fund that year, according to industry-tracker HFR. Hedge funds on average lost 19% that year. Even the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index, which plunged as the economy descended into the worst financial crisis in decades, did better. But with a 30% return in 2012 and a 14% gain this year, TCI has crossed its high-water mark, or the point at which investment gains make up for losses and managers can begin collecting performance fees again, according to clients. "A lot of people wrote me off," Mr. Hohn said in an interview last month. "A lot of people fired us, a few people stuck by us, and we've worked and worked and made it all back for them." JPMorgan, MF Global Trustee Reach $546 Million Settlement (Reuters) As part of a settlement reached with James Giddens, the trustee who is tasked with liquidating MF Global Inc, JPMorgan will pay $100 million that will be made available for distribution to former MF Global customers. JPMorgan will also return more than $29 million of the brokerage's funds held by the bank, while releasing claims on$417 million that was previously returned to Giddens. Man, 18, forbidden from saying 'bingo' for 6 months (NKY) As part of 18-year-old Austin Whaley’s punishment, Kenton District Judge Douglas Grothaus recently ordered the Covington man not to say the word “bingo” for six months. “Just like you can’t run into a theater and yell ‘fire’ when it’s not on fire, you can’t run into a crowded bingo hall and yell ‘bingo’ when there isn’t one,” said Park Hills Police Sgt. Richard Webster, the officer who cited Whaley. On Feb. 9, Webster was working an off-duty security detail at a Covington bingo hall on West Pike Street when Whaley entered the hall with several other youths and yelled “bingo,” Webster said. “This caused the hall to quit operating since they thought someone had won,” Webster wrote on his citation. “This delayed the game by several minutes and caused alarm to patrons.” Webster said the crowd of mostly elderly women did not take kindly to Whaley’s bingo call. “At first, everybody started moaning and groaning when they thought they’d lost,” Webster said. “When they realized it wasn’t a real bingo, they started hooting and hollering and yelling and cussing. People take their bingo very seriously.” Had Whaley apologized for his actions, Webster said he probably would have sent him on his way with a warning. “But he refused to say he was sorry,” Webster said...WhenWhaley appeared in Kenton District Court last week, the judge ordered Whaley: “Do not say the word ‘bingo’ for six months.” The youthful defendant could have faced up to 90 days in a jail and a $250 fine on the misdemeanor charge. So long as Whaley, who had no prior criminal record, doesn’t get into any more trouble within six months, though, the charge will be dismissed.

Opening Bell: 01.25.13

Ex-Barclays CEO Diamond Is Named on Latest Libor-Lawsuit List (Bloomberg) Ex-Barclays Chief Executive Officer Robert Diamond and Former Chief Operating Officer Jerry Del Missier were among 25 bank employees anonymously referred to by regulators when the lender was fined for attempted interest rate rigging. Diamond and Del Missier were included on a second list released in a London court case linking Barclays staff to the London interbank offered rate. Judge Julian Flaux refused a request by some employees to prevent their names being published in connection to the case. Deutsche Bank Trader Fired Over Rate-Rigging Loses $53 Million (Bloomberg) Deutsche Bank's Christian Bittar, one of the firm’s best-paid traders, lost about 40 million euros ($53 million) in bonuses after he was fired for trying to rig interest rates, three people with knowledge of the move said. The lender dismissed Bittar in December 2011, claiming he colluded with a Barclays Plc (BARC) trader to manipulate rates and boost the value of his trades in 2006 and 2007, said the people, who requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. His attempts to rig the euro interbank offered rate and similar efforts by derivatives trader Guillaume Adolph over yen Libor are the focus of the bank’s probe, the people said. Both traders declined to comment for this story. “Upon discovering that a limited number of employees acted inappropriately, we sanctioned or dismissed those involved and clawed back all of their unvested compensation,” Deutsche Bank spokesman Michael Golden said in a statement. “To date we have found no link between the inappropriate conduct of a limited number of employees and the profits generated by these trades.” Aleksey Vayner may have died of drug overdose (DM) The Yale student who catapulted to Internet infamy with a disastrous video resume he sent to a prospective employer died at his home in Queens, New York. Vayner passed away at the age of 29, according to the New York City Medical Examiner - and reports from relatives suggest that he may have experienced a drug overdose...In the video, titled 'Impossible is Nothing,' a gravely serious Vayner attempts to prove his mental and physical fitness by talking about the meaning of success while lifting 495-pound weights, smacking tennis balls faster than 140 miles per hour, ball-dancing with a scantily-clad woman and breaking seven bricks with his hand. 'Ignore the losers, bring your A-game, your determination and your drive to the field, and the success will follow you,' he says in the video. JPMorgan to Block Shareholder Vote on Bank Break-Up (Reuters) A federation of U.S. labor unions is looking to force JPMorgan Chase's board to consider breaking up the company after the disastrous "London Whale" affair, but the bank is trying to ensure that its shareholders do not get to vote on the union's proposal. The largest U.S. bank is seeking permission from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to omit the proposal from the measures that shareholders vote on this spring,according to a letter sent to the agency on January 14. The proposal, from the AFL-CIO's Reserve Fund, a union fund that owns JPMorgan shares, calls on bank directors to form a committee that would explore "extraordinary transactions that could enhance stockholder value," including breaking off one or more of the company's businesses. As Cohen parties in Davos, legal eagles circle at home (NYP) Hedge-fund titan Steve Cohen took a break from battlinginvestor redemptions to hob-knob with other heavyweights at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland. But Cohen, who runs $14 billion Stamford, Conn., hedge-fund giant SAC Capital, could be facing more trouble when he gets home. At least one class-action law firm is trying to rustle up investors to sue SAC for its ties to an alleged insider-trading scheme that led to the arrest of a former portfolio manager. Wilmington, Del.-based Chimicles & Tikellis posted a notice on its website saying it is seeking SAC investors and limited partners and is “actively investigating a proposed investor lawsuit against SAC Capital.” Any resulting lawsuit would be pegged to SAC’s “mismanagement of the limited partnership and certain hedge funds.” Wisconsin Man Wearing "Breathalyzer" T-Shirt Arrested For Sixth Time For Drunk Driving (TSG) The 30-year-old was arrested early Saturday morning for drunk driving after he was found passed out at the wheel of a Chevrolet Cavalier that was parked with its engine running in the middle of a Wisconsin road. Wendler, who reeked of intoxicants, failed a series of field sobriety tests and appeared “dazed and confused,” according to a Marathon County Sheriff’s Department report, which noted that a deputy spotted an unopened six-pack of beer on the vehicle’s passenger seat. A breath sample recorded Wendler’s blood alcohol content as .19, more than twice the legal limit. As a result, he was charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated--the sixth time he has been busted for drunk driving. Wendler’s extensive DWI history, of course, makes his t-shirt choice a strange one. As seen in his mug shot, Wandler was nabbed while wearing a shirt referencing drinking and a “free Breathalyzer test.” The shirt also includes an arrow (beneath the words “blow here”) pointing downward toward Wendler’s crotch. Financial Job Losses Near Four-Year High as Europe Leads (Bloomberg) Financial-services firms are on track to cut the most jobs in January since the start of 2009 as Europe struggles to emerge from the debt crisis and regulators impose tougher capital rules. The 16,040 announced and expected reductions in the past three weeks are just short of the 16,389 cuts made in the industry during January 2009 after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Bankers and consultants expect the cuts to accelerate in coming months even as financial stocks gained 26 percent last year. Credit Bubble Seen in Davos as Cohn Warns of Repricing (Bloomberg) Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn warned of a potential drop in fixed-income prices as bankers and policy makers in Davos celebrated surging demand for financial assets. Debt markets that have seen junk-bond yields drop to record lows may face a “substantial repricing” if interest rates spike or investors begin pulling money out of fixed income, Cohn, 52, said in an interview yesterday with Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Morgan Stanley CEO To Take Pay Cut (WSJ) Morgan Stanley disclosed Thursday that Mr. Gorman would receive about $2.6 million in stock options for 2012. All told, he will receive $6 million in salary, cash and stock for the year, said a person familiar with the company's compensation plans, plus participation in an incentive plan whose value wasn't disclosed. His full pay package won't be disclosed until this spring's proxy statement. Thousands of crocodiles on loose after floods hit South African farm (The Guardian) Around 15,000 crocodiles made the great escape from the Rakwena crocodile farm near the border with Botswana on Sunday, according to the newspaper Beeld. Although "a few thousand" have since been recaptured, including one at a school rugby ground 75 miles away, more than half of the reptiles are still at large.

Opening Bell: 6.8.15

Deutsche Bank co-CEOs fire themselves; Hedge funds love Japan; "Suit claims principal bribed students with strip club field trip"; and more.

Opening Bell: 11.4.15

Spoofing trader found guilty; Goldman probed; Ackman loses big on Valeant; Icahn plays coy on Valeant; "You Can Finally Get Bernie Sanders-Themed Undies"; and more.